Sam Adams Holiday Porter is one of the beers found in this year’s Winter Variety Pack, as it has been since the 2004 season. The Holiday Porter is an English-style ale, and aside from the fact that England is where the Porter was developed, if you read the neck label of the bottle its pretty clear that there is a big English influence on the crafting of this seasonal beer.
“…brewed with generous portions of caramel, Munich and Chocolate malt, this hearty porter finishes with traditional English Fuggles and East Kent Goldings.” (Those are traditional English hops.) If you check out the Sam Adams website, we learn even more of what goes into this brew! “In total, four types of malted barley are used in the brewing process including a variety of German malt called Carafa®*. This specialty malt, along with a bit of flaked oats, gives our Holiday Porter its smooth, roasted malt character.”
Smooth and malty indeed! But we’ll get back to that…
First, lets have a look at the Holiday Porter in the glass. Its very dark as one might expect, but what I was most impressed with was the billowy head. From what you see in the picture, the head did go down, eventually, to a very nice-looking foamy layer about a fingers width. I wish I had waited to take a picture then as it looked (to me) almost like a perfect pint! Also of note was the amount of lacing that this brew left on my glass.
Based on the ingredient list above, you can probably get an idea of what this beer might smell like. To me, the specifics are sometimes hard to pick out (depending on how my nose is behaving) but overall the Holiday Porter smells like a roasted, malty treat. Its strange to say something smells almost burnt and malty sweet at the same time, but that’s what I get. I like it.
The taste? Ahh the taste. Roasted malt, molasses, those English hops and even some chocolate come through to make an interesting and enjoyable flavor. While I can’t taste it, there is even a bit of oatmeal used in the recipe which is supposed to “…round off any roughness from the highly roasted malts and add a touch of silkiness to the finish.” I’d say its a success!
A little tip for you – let this beer warm up a bit if you’re just pulling it out of the fridge. I found that the flavors (as expected) get better as the beer warms. Let is sit for 10 minutes or so, or just take your time drinking it and I think you’ll see what I mean. Its not a beer to be enjoyed ice-cold!
Another thing I really like about this Porter is the mouthfeel. Often, I find myself disappointed with Porters because they are too thin. This one is creamy and smooth, not quite as heavy as a stout might feel, but there is good body here for sure. A hearty beer indeed, worthy of enjoyment during the holiday season.
Like many of the beers in the Sam Adams Seasonal Variety Packs, Holiday Porter is only available within. You won’t find it in six-packs, which to me, is a shame. I think it would make an excellent seasonal stand-alone beer, much like I thought their Pumpkin Ale would from the Fall Variety Pack.
So, if you’re at a party, and someone is cool enough to bring the Winter Variety Pack, (like I did!) snatch up the two Holiday Porters for yourself before someone else who wouldn’t appreciate it gets hold of them!